Flying is and has always been a family affair for Mike Brown. With a father who worked for Delta, Brown was fascinated with aviation from an early age. As a young boy, he loved sitting in the observation tower, where he would watch DC-3s pull into Lovell Field.
Today, Brown has passed along his love of flight to his son, Michael, who obtained his pilot’s license while he was still in high school and is now pursuing a career in aviation law.
“I love flying because it provides freedom of escape. There are no interruptions. It’s just the machine and you,” explains Brown. “When you fly, it’s like nature, man, and machine are working perfectly in tandem to achieve a property known only by the birds and the angels.”
Brown, who took his first flight lesson in 1989, has owned a multitude of single-engine planes over his 31-year piloting career, but he’s since settled down with two aircrafts, each with their own purpose.
The family’s 2011 amphibious American Legend Cub, referred to as the Little Yellow Cub, is best suited for low-level sightseeing and can land and take off on water, grass, and asphalt. The plane can be flown from the front or back seats, and during warm weather, the side doors and windows can be opened, providing for an even more scenic experience.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Browns’ 2003 Cessna T182T. This aircraft is a great all-purpose, cross-country plane that can reach speeds of 161 miles per hour and heights of 20,000 feet.
“We jokingly call the Cessna, Big Iron,” says Brown. “In aviation circles, the name Big Iron is used to describe really big, complex airplanes. Our Cessna is hardly Big Iron worthy, but compared to the Cub, it is certainly Big Iron to our family.”
Brown enjoys his fleet because it allows for both slow flight and cross-country travel, but he notes the scenic opportunities in Chattanooga are hard to beat.
“There is just something special about flying over Chattanooga, Chickamauga Lake, and the Tennessee River at a low level early on a summer morning,” says Brown. “People may not realize it, but Chattanooga is one of the most beautiful places to fly in the country. We have mountains and rivers and low-traffic airspace. A smooth water landing at the Chickamauga Dam on a crisp winter evening before nightfall is indescribable.”
Brown took his first flight lesson in 1989 and has owned many single-engine planes over his 31-year piloting career.